Virtual Skinny: Open Me!

10.12.2016

Good to Know: Open floor plans are the worst! Not even programmers like it. Hey companies! Are you paying attention? 

THE SKINNY


When Big Brother Is Watching…

Chicago-based startup Geofeedia has been keeping tabs on people via their social media posts and then sharing that info with U.S. law enforcement.  

When You’re like Wait, Come Again?

Yesterday, the ACLU dropped a huge report uncovering how Geofeedia’s relationship with social networks helps law enforcement monitor and locate alleged criminals and protesters. Since users’ posts often come with personal info like their location, this isn’t  surveillanceexactly going over well. The ACLU says Geofeedia’s, helps police ‘disproportionately’ target black people, compromises free speech, and leads police directly to protest sites.
Just ask actress 
Shailene Woodley.

When You’re Waiting for Reactions …

After the ACLU let us in on Geofeedia’s secrets, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram immediately cut off the company’s access to their data. Geofeedia CEO Phil Harris says the company’s all for ‘personal privacy [and] transparency.’ #SideEye He needs more people because we don’t believe him. Meanwhile, ACLU says good for social platforms in cutting of Geofeedia’s access. But now, they need these companies to put public policies in place to prevent something like this from happening again.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You should be open to responding… 

Sometimes, you can’t go high when they go low. You’re probably well aware of the email leaks and hacks that’s causing quite the storm during this year’s U.S. presidential debate. The U.S. blames Russia, and it won’t be sitting idly. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama’s working on a ‘proportional’ response. The rest of us will be kept in the dark on what exactly that means, and it’s unclear whether we’ll ever find out. 

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Holiday season’s coming up. Can’t afford a flight for your winter vay-cay? Say hello to black-owned company Airfordable. It’s lets folks pay for plane tickets in installments aka layaway. No more excuses … flight

Sony wants to turn its business around with its first major foray into virtual reality (VR) –  its US $399 Playstation VR headset.

Jungle Book director Jon Favreau wants in on the virtual reality game too. He’s working on a new movie with the studio Wevr called Gnomes and Goblins. It’ll be an interactive VR experience. Sign.Us.UP!

VR, it’s not just for games and entertainment. Chinese Internet company Alibaba’s financial arm is out with VR Pay – a new payment system. How does it work? Use VR goggles to shop VR malls. See something you like? Just nod your head, and it’s yours! No worries … Retailers will know it’s you buying up a storm and not a ‘rando’ by using account logins and passwords to verify. VR Pay is available commercial use by the end of year.   

Rumor has it that Amazon’s looking to open up convenience stores in California to help support its possible drive-through grocery pick up locations. The company has yet to confirm or deny. But, what is confirmed? Amazon’s Alexa-powered music service aka Amazon Music Unlimited goes live today for US $4/month. #HappyListening 

Service robots to take care of persona and domestic tasks will be a thing at least for the next three years.

MAKING MOVES


Or not … Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg is staying put. She has no plans to join a potential Hillary Clinton Administration. #ForTheRecord

Virtual Skinny: Who Run The World?

9.30.2016

WOD (Word of the Day): Artificial intelligence is an area of computer science that focuses on creating ‘intelligent’ computers that have human-like reactions. Yup, just like you see in the movies. 

irobot

THE SKINNY


When You Need to Diversify …

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) dropped a discrimination lawsuit against data-mining startup Palantir Technologies. Fun Fact: Palantir’s software helped track down Osama bin Laden right before the U.S. took him out. #TheMoreYouKnow 

When You Need to Know More …

Turns out that the DOL found that Palantir has been turning away Asian applicants from engineering gigs in droves. The agency says Asian applicants were ‘routinely’ weeded out during initial stages (i.e., résumé screening and telephone interview). #PlotTwist 

When This Isn’t What You’re Used To …  

Cisco exec Barry Gee says discrimination cases involving Asians in Silicon Valley isn’t the typical storyline (these cases usually involve black and Hispanic applicants) though he admits Asians do get shut out of management roles. 

When Things Are Unclear …

So far, specific numbers to back up the DOL’s allegations are unclear. In the meantime, Palantir is denying any wrongdoing. And, the company should hope things are on the up and up because any findings of wrongdoing could cancel its federal contracts worth US $340 millie.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You Want to See Results …

The larger tech industry continues to struggle with diversity across the board (underrepresented minorities, women, etc). The industry’s taking a page from the National Football League’s (NFL) playbook. Tech and Internet companies are applying the ‘Rooney Rule’ to help up their diversity numbers. How does it work? Companies like Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, and Microsoft are using the rule to make sure that at least one woman or underrepresented minority is interviewed for a position. Could help bring in a more diverse applicant pool, but companies shouldn’t get it twisted. It’s not just about getting people interviews. The issue runs much deeper. #UnconsciousBias  

How to Not See Results …

Investor and serial entrepreneur John Greathouse thought he was giving sound advice to women in tech when he advised that they ‘create an online presence that obscures their gender’ (e.g., use your initials for  job apps or when seeking startup funding). Greathouse said women should create a ‘neutral online presence’ to avoid gender-bias.  Studies apparently show that men are less likely to find female names likeable. Greathouse learned very quickly what happens when a good deed goes wrong. Many women and some men were not having it, and immediately responded with comments, posts, blogs, etc. See here, here, and here. Moral of the story: Not a great idea to suggest workarounds a problem without making suggestions to solve the actual problem. Greathouse has since apologized. We gotta ask: Despite the backlash, does Greathouse have a point until the larger problems are fixed? Sound off in the comments!

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Who Run The World?

Melinda Gates wants girls to run the tech world. She’s now turning her attention to the lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math). Gates, who earned a computer science degree from Duke and previously worked at Microsoft for a decade, is concerned that the percentage of women in computer science has plummeted from 37 percent to 18 percent since the ‘80s. Her plan is to assess the problem before deciding where resources should go to bring solutions. #StrengthInNumbers  

Switching Gears …

First India and now Germany.  If you’ll remember, people were not happy when WhatsApp announced that it would start sharing its users’ data with Facebook. German regulators just threw a flag on WhatsApp’s play. They say German users didn’t give the go ahead on any of it, which violates its data protection laws. The regulators want Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp data and to hit the delete on all German users’ data collected already. Facebook plans to fight Germany on this. The company probably keep its defenses up because Italy is giving the company major side-eye on the same issue. 

IT’S ALL IN THE NUMBERS…


Looks like folks aren’t sold yet on self-driving cars. New Kelley Blue Book survey found that 80% of survey participants said we should “always have the option to drive themselves;” 64% need to be in control of their own vehicle; and 62% just enjoy driving.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft have partnered up to make moves on artificial intelligence and come up with best practices for it. #TeamWorkMakesTheDreamWork 

Salesforce just threw a wrench into Microsoft’s plan to buy LinkedIn. The company is asking European regulators to put the kibosh on the deal. Something about the deal will be a threat t’o future innovation and competition.’

Snap, Inc. formerly known as Snapchat is out with its ‘Snapchat Spectacles’ complete with a wearable camera. They’re going for US $130. Add that to your holiday gifts list. 

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Loads of content plus a social platform could equal a potential Disney acquisition of Twitter. The social media platform lost a controversial user. Venture capital investor Marc Andreessen decided to call it quits on the Twitterverse. He’s apparently feeling ‘free as a bird.’ #PunIntended 

Music streaming service Spotify has also got buying on its brain. Soundcloud could be it’s next target. If it works out, it’s music to Soundcloud’s ear since the company’s been struggling and looking for a way to exit stage left. Meanwhile, Spotify’s finally saying hello to Japan, the world’s second largest music market (worth over US $2.5 billion). #BetterLateThanNever 

Queen B (aka Beyonce) just made her first foray into tech with a US $150,000 investment in Sidestep, an app for buying concert ‘merch’ that also helps you head straight to the counter to pick up your new swag. 

What Was Trending This Week … 


Mary J. Blige can add host to her resume. Mary’s hosting ‘The 411’ on Beats 1. This week, she interviewed Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton then the R&B singer sang to Hillz about police brutality. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but check out the full interview here. Happy Friday!

 

Virtual Skinny: Run and Tell That … 

9.23.2016

Good to Know: Calling all U.S. citizens: Have you registered to vote? Facebook just launched its first voter registration drive. Just log onto your account. There’s literally no excuse so run and tell that! 
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THE SKINNY


When You’ve Been Keeping A Secret and have to tell… 
Yesterday, Yahoo announced that about 500 million email accounts were hacked courtesy of a ‘state-sponsored’ attack. That’s 300 million more than the company originally thought. This is probably the largest data breach of all time. Kind of a big deal …
When You Need More Deats … 
Turns out the hack went down back in 2014, but Yahoo just learned about it in recent months (allegedly). The good news? Unprotected passwords and banking info weren’t stolen. The bad news? The list of stolen information is longer and includes things like: protected passwords, security questions and answers, email addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, etc. #NoBueno.
When You Need To Protect Yourself … 
Go ahead and change the password to your Yahoo email account like yesterday (especially if you haven’t done so since 2014). Avoid ‘weak’ passwords like ‘Password123;’ Password managers such as 1Password and LastPass can help. Once that’s done, think through your log in information for sensitive accounts like your online banking. If your previous Yahoo email password and/or security Q&As could be remotely similar, go ahead and change those passwords too.  We know … SUCH a headache! #BetterSafeThanSorry
When It’s All Bad … 
Yahoo users aren’t the only ones that need to worry.  This is a massive data breach that’s caught the attention of pretty much everyone and their moms.  And, Yahoo’s reported US $4.8 billion sale to Verizon could be on the line. Can Yahoo catch a break or what?

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON? 

When It’s Been Another Tough Week … 
The killings of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Terence Crutcher and Charlotte, North Carolina’s Keith Lamont Scott has left many feeling disheartened and outraged by the ongoing issue of police officers’ use of force against civilians. People are calling for transparency so we can all have an honest discussion. San Francisco-based nonprofit startup Bayes Impact is working on a new data tool to track ‘violent encounters between officers and civilians.’ Turns out the data on these incidents to date are terrible. Even the FBI’s numbers are off to say the least when it comes to homicides committed by police. Bayes Impact is asking California police departments to record ‘use of force’ incidents (i.e., shooting or assault that leads to death or serious injuries) on its platform called Ursus. Gotta start somewhere …
When You Need A Court Date … 
Not too long ago, messaging app WhatsApp put its users on notice that it would start sharing users’ data with Facebook. It had money from ads on the brain when it made the change. Many people were not happy. Two Indian college students Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi were so peeved that they went ahead and filed a court action law suit against Facebook. In the name of privacy and security, they want the Delhi High Court to tell Facebook to change the WhatsApp privacy policy back to the one we all knew and loved. WhatsApp says privacy and security are non-issues since it’s got end-to-end encryption for messages sent over the platform. 
When You’re Not the Only One Taking Things Back.. 
Google’s Allo is a new messaging app . When the company first introduced its version of  WhatsApp, it made some pretty big statements about privacy and security. We were promised an end-to-end encrypted Incognito Mode. The company also said messages wouldn’t be stored forever but just for a short time. This week, we learned that’s not the case. Messages sent while in the Incognito Mode will be stored by default, and it’s up to the user to actively delete messages. Before you rush to judge, Google says it made the change for a good reason:  To make a quality ‘smart reply’ function, which won’t work well if there’s no data available.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’ 

LinkedIn helps you get a job and now it wants to help you keep it with LinkedIn Learning. The feature relies on Lynda.com courses to help sharpen people’s skills in areas like business, creative, and technology.
Speaking of getting your learn on, MIT’s letting people learn first and pay later for grad level courses through MOOC platform edX.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan made a huge announcement this week.  They’re following in the footsteps of Bill and Melinda Gates and plan to donate US $3 billion to figure out how to cure diseases within the next decade.
Apple may or may not be in acquisition talks with ‘supercar’ company McLaren
Japan just added ‘priests’ to the growing list of people we can get on-demand. Who knew?

WOD (WORD OF THE DAY)

End-to-end encryption: A way to protect information being sent over communication platforms (e.g., WhatsApp) so it can only by read by the people involved in the chat. Third parties won’t be able to access the conversation.  In other words, end-to-end encryption is technology’s way of saying: “This is an ‘A’ and ‘B’ conversation so ‘C’ your way out.’ #Boom 

Virtual Skinny: Open Up!

8.26.2016

Good to Know: Need to kill some time on a Friday? Google ‘solitaire’ or ‘tic-tac-toe’ and get your game on…Enjoy! 

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THE SKINNY


When You’re Doing An About-Face …

Messaging app WhatsApp was hell-bent on protecting its users privacy, but things change.

When You’re Not Selling Out Completely …

To be fair, WhatsApp isn’t completely going back on its word. It just announced that it’ll be sharing ‘limited data’ (including phone numbers) with Facebook, it’s parent company. In case you forgot, FB bought WhatsApp for a whooping US $22 billion back in 2014.

When You’re Not Sure Why This Is Happening …

There are a number of reasons for the change. Better friend suggestions is one … Getting better FB ads and just having a better experience with the app generally are others … And, even helping businesses offer better customer service is also on the list. In other words, WhatsApp need to make money.

When You’re Trying to Be Open …

WhatsApp understands that this privacy policy change doesn’t look good, but it wants users to know that it’s encryption game is still hella strong. But if you’d rather be excluded from this narrative all together, you’ve got a couple of options. You can opt-out right away or within a month if you’ve already agreed to the app’s new terms.

landscape-1468872336-taylor-swift-excluded-narrative

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’?

This week, rapper Frank Ocean released his long, looooooooong awaited album called, Blonde. Ocean released his latest work independently and got his work to the masses via iTunes and Apple Music. Turns out this is a nightmare scenario for record labels. If artists aren’t happy with their record label contracts, what’s stopping them from putting out music on their own then turning to music streaming services for distribution? Well, the answer is nothing (assuming the artist is no longer under contract). Record labels are shaking in their boots. We’ve even heard that Universal Music Group is banning ‘streaming exclusives’ for its artists. Ocean’s the first to break away from a major record label and do something like this. Now the question is … Who’s next? Bey? Drake?  How much longer before music labels are a thing of the past?  

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See Something, Say Something …

Before we all started hating EpiPen maker Mylan for it’s ridiculously high prices for the live-saving allergy treatment, actress Mellini Kantayya learned about the whole thing via her Facebook friends back in July. Kantayya launched an online petition called ‘Stop the EpiPen Price Gouging, which went viral. Then, others jumped in on the ‘social’ discussion. Robyn O’Brien, founder of AllergyKids.com, started the ‘EpiGate’ hashtag. And just like that, the #EpiGate turned into one of the biggest news stories of the summer. Never underestimate the power of social media…

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Presidents and Wanna Be Presidents …

Check out this 11-minute video and President Obama’s Yosemite National Park visit in VR (formally known as virtual reality). The video is courtesy of Facebook-owned Oculus and VR content studio Felix and Paul Studios. Or skip the video and check out the President watching himself in VR. 

President Barack Obama watches a virtual reality film captured during his trip to Yosemite National Park earlier this year, in the Outer Oval Office, Aug. 24, 2016. Personal aide Ferial Govashiri sits at her desk at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama watches a virtual reality film captured during his trip to Yosemite National Park earlier this year, in the Outer Oval Office, Aug. 24, 2016. Personal aide Ferial Govashiri sits at her desk at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

These days you gotta meet people where they are … That’s why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are forking over $$$ for ads on Snapchat. Video ads are where it’s at to reach America’s youth.

Cars You Drive and Those That Drive Themselves…

Somehow Uber managed to drain US $1.27 BILLION dollars in just 6 months. In Uber’s world, it’s literally a drop in the bucket. Price competition from Lyft and drivers’ subsidies are partly to blame. Speaking of Uber drivers, retirement plans are in their future (sort of). Uber’s linked up with robo-advisor Betterment to set up drivers with IRAs or Roth IRAs.

When you did it first … Singapore’s nuTonomy just became the first company to get the world’s first self-driving taxis on the road. Still in test mode but still a very big deal. Uber and Google are working on it but aren’t there yet. 

Add Amazon to the automotive list. It’s launched a new hub to help those in the market for new rides compare specs, prices, and get smart before making a purchase. It’s all about building that ‘automotive community.’

How to Avoid Being Hangry …

More on Amazon … It’s taking a cue from Walmart. Shop groceries with the online retailer and then pick up your loot at a nearby drive-in location. No more wasting time by waiting for those deliveries at your door. Yay! That’s the plan at least… Amazon’s still testing things out.  

Southern Global Hospitality…

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for home sharing service AirBnB as of late. It’s been dealing with some heavy subjects like racism and discrimination on the app. But, not every host on the app is a jerk. Over 300 hosts are taking in people for free that have been devastated by the natural disasters in Italy, Louisiana, and Cali. It’s all part of the company’s disaster response program. #GoodWork

Keep Me Entertained …

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. First Instagram, now Apple.  The iPhone maker is working on a video feature reminiscent of Snapchat.

Pandora just got a new partner, and it makes sense. The Root’s Questlove and the music streaming service are doing a lil collabo called “Questlove Supreme,” a weekly radio show. The ‘black nerd version of NPR’ kicks off on Sept. 7.

Introducing Fans.com, a social network for all things concerts. 

So, North Korea’s apparently working on a Netflix-type service called ‘ManBang.’ Interesting move since a ton of North Korean citizens aren’t even allowed to access the InterWebs. Things that make you go hmmm…

So Not Entertaining …

Internet trolls truly outdid themselves this week. If you remember, not too long ago the Cincinnati Zoo had to unfortunately take down Harambe (one of its gorillas). People were outraged and started trolling not only the zoo but it’s director on social. Things got so bad, the zoo said ‘screw this, we’re out.’ It got off of social.  

Things went from bad to worse when we learned that also this week, Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones was hacked. It’s been a rollercoaster summer for the celeb who was the target of vicious racist attacks on Twitter. We thought things calmed down, but that was a mistake. Hackers got access to some explicit pics of Leslie and her passport info then posted them to her official website (complete with racial remarks). The website’s been taken down, other celebs rallied behind Leslie, and the Department of Homeland Security is investigating. #DoBetter 

MAKIN’ MOVES


Tech magazine Wired is losing another exec. Mark McClusky turned in his two-week notice and will be heading back to Sports Illustrated to run its digital division.

Virtual Skinny: Play It Live …

7.11.2016

Good to Know: Amazon Prime Day is almost live … July 12 – Save the date to get your deals.

THE SKINNY


When You Need Time for Self-Care …

The unjust killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers amplified America’s old struggle with racial injustice but raised new questions too. What to do about violent live videos on social media?

fb live

When Real-Life Tragedy is Live …

Castile’s fiancee, Diamond Reynolds, live streamed the immediate aftermath of Castile being shot in the arm by a cop on Facebook Live.  But, within a couple of hours of courageously streaming her personal tragedy, Facebook took the video down.

When Something Is Not What It Seems …

Facebook claims the video was taken down because of a ‘technical glitch,’ but put it right back up complete with a “graphic content” label. But, since the launch of Facebook Live, we’ve seen hours of footage containing violent content ranging from a terrorist hostage situation to a man threatening police. Those images remained on the site without warning. #SideEye

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When You’re Not Sure How to Handle It …

Facebook and Twitter’s Periscope are trying to figure out live video as they go. Social media platforms usually have community standards to uphold but are unsure how to honor those standards with live, real-time video. Both companies are testing out ways to monitor videos for offensive content.

When You Need to Think On It …

How graphic is too graphic? Should social media platforms draw the line in what types of content should be live streamed? Sound off! We want to know your thoughts.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Time for Some Relief …

Noticed anyone talking about catching Pokemon? Well, that’s because Pokemon Go is now all the rage. Nintendo is making a huge comeback and delving into the mobile gaming space with its latest game.  The game relies on your phone’s GPS and clock to turn you into a “Pokemon hunter.”  The game is well on its way to surpassing Twitter with its number of daily active users (at least on Droids). So, go ahead – download the game on your iPhone or Droid device and see what the fuss is about … Just make sure not to get robbed or find any dead bodies.  

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Does fasting leading to increased work productivity? Employees at San Francisco-based startup Nootrobox seem to think so. Looks like “biohacking” is the new thing.

AirBnB is getting ready to clean up at the Rio Olympics thanks to less than ideal conditions in Brazil, the home sharing site already has 35,000 active listings and 55,000 scheduled guests just for the Games. #NotBad 

Back to live streams … Twitter (with the help of the CBS network) plans to live stream the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions. Fire up your Twitter feed and get your popcorn ready … 

Virtual Skinny: Smile! You’re On Candid Camera

6.7.2016

Good to Know: Placing stickers or plastic slides over laptop cameras is definitely a trend due to privacy and security concerns.  If FBI Director James Comey does it, then perhaps it’s worth jumping on the bandwagon. 

THE SKINNY


When You Call It Like You See It …

Last night, the Associated Press (AP) went right ahead and called the Democratic nomination for Hillary Clinton. Note to the AP: citizens in six states including California still have to cast their votes in today’s primary.

When It’s Not Over Till It’s Over … 

Hillary’s team immediately took to Twitter and sent out a clear message: We’re flattered, @AP, but we’ve got primaries to win. CA, MT, NM, ND, NJ, SD, vote tomorrow!

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When It’s all hands on deck … 

Calling all the “Bernie tech bros” aka the young white college-educated men in Silicon Valley that make up a good portion of Bernie’s base. You could say Bernie Sander’s campaign is version 2.0 of Obama’s 2008 campaign – heavy on online grassroots. Bernie supporters are tech savvy and like what they hear in terms of Bernie’s plans to disrupt Washington D.C.  They’re keeping the fight alive by relying on social media platforms and tools.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Make It Better … 

Uber’s trying to do right by its drivers. The ride-hailing service company just added a few new features for drivers’ benefit (e.g., drivers get will ride discounts when they participate on the platform as passengers and instant pay is now a thing). Even if you’re not an Uber driver, you’ll want to know about one feature:  The company plans to expand its new $5 or $10 penalty fee to more cities. Bottom line is just make sure you don’t keep the Uber driver waiting longer than 2 minutes.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Spotify just brought on Lady Gaga’s former manager Troy Carter as its Global Head of Creator Services. The music streaming company wants Carter to write a “bad romance” with artists, songwriters, and record labels.  And by bad, we really mean “good.” #RelationshipGoals

Attention iOS users: Sharing pics and videos on Insta just got a whole easier.  Launching the app isn’t even needed.

Verizon is willing to put up US $3 billion for Yahoo’s Internet parts.

Virtual Skinny: Friday Fave

5.13.2016

Good to Know: Want to delete your fave dating app? Just deleting the app from your phone won’t do the trick. Take these steps to delete your profile and avoid any awkward encounters or questions.

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THE SKINNY


When It’s The Same Story, Different Source … 

Facebook is having one of the worst weeks ever. More info has leaked about its editorial team and “Trending Topics” section. This time it’s courtesy of The Guardian.

When It’s More Of The Same … 

The Guardian obtained a leaked internal document intended to give FB’s editorial staff guidelines on how to determine what news is trending and what’s not. The docs confirms things that we’ve already heard. FB’s new team relied on 10 major new sources, staff can “inject” a story into Trending Topics even if it actually isn’t trending on the network, and new stories about FB are kind of off limits. A couple of things here: (1) FB’s VP Tom Stocky said earlier this week that the company does not insert stories artificially” and (2) FB leads users to believe the stories are picked by algorithms, but there’s actually quite a bit of human involvement.  Hmmm … Whoops!

When It’s Time to Deny, Deny, Deny … 

FB responded and said that the Guardian’s doc is out of date and isn’t the current practices of the company.  FB’s VP of Global Operations Justin Osofsky responded with an official blog post of how “Trending Topics” actually works. He says the team relies on 1,000 new sources (not just 10). Osofsky says the team also uses an RSS web crawler to I.D. hot topics. And, he says that FB’s not about suppressing political views even if they are conservative.

When You Don’t Want No F&^#@! Problems …

Mark Zuckerberg is in full on damage control. He put out a lengthy FB status about the situation. He says the company is investigating the matter but has not found any wrongdoing yet. Also, he wants to pow-wow with conservatives and others to put this whole thing to bed. 

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON? 


When Amazon Isn’t Your Fave … 

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is not a fan of Amazon.  He thinks the company has a “huge antitrust problem.” It all comes down to the fact that Amazon’s Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post (WaPo). Trump is under the impression that Bezos is using WaPo to influence politicians and ultimately avoid paying taxes. #Interesting

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’ 


Pitching your startup to venture capitalists – the latest thing you can do on Snapchat.

Basketball legend Magic Johnson is leaving payment company Square’s board.  Who knew? Johnson’s kicking off his fund for urban development.

Virtual Skinny: Space(d) Out …

3.3.2016

Good to Know: American astronaut Scott Kelly came back down to Earth after spending 340 days in space. And in other space news, NASA continues to work on bringing the Internet (high speed networks) to galaxies far, far away

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THE SKINNY


When You Need To make space…

Google, Inc. wants to come in between us and the Zika virus. It is throwing resources – as in volunteer engineers and about US $1 million in grant money – to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

When You Need A Reminder …

Zika, which is transmitted by mosquitoes and has been linked to causing microcephaly in newborns, has been wreaking havoc across the Americas for a minute now. So much so, that the World Health Organization gave it the official “public health emergency” stamp. Note: Microcephaly tends to cause newborns to have unusually small heads, which leads to other defects.

When You’re Coming Up with Solutions, Not Problems …

Google wants to create an open source platform intended to map out the virus’ spread and i.d. potential outbreaks by looking at things like travel and weather patterns and other data points. Why stop there? Well, it’s not. The Internet industry vet also wants people to learn more about the virus via a new web-based campaign among other things (i.e., develop a vaccine since one doesn’t currently exist).

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You Just Need to Get Used To It …

We’ll probably be talking Apple v. FBI for a while.  This week, both sides took their arguments to U.S. Capitol Hill.  And now, FBI Director James Comey is saying “our b.” During a hearing, Comey admitted that the FBI made the wrong decision by changing the Apple ID password linked to one of the San Bernardino shooters’ phones – a “180” from the agency’s previous statement.

When You’ve Watched One Too Many Episodes of ‘Lock Up…’

Earlier this week, Brazilian law enforcement picked up Diego Dzodan, Vice President of Facebook Latin American, in Sao Paulo. By now, it’s pretty much the same story, different script: Criminal activity (drug trafficking in this case) + law enforcement wanting information + WhatsApp denying law enforcement’s request = Judge Ordering WhatsApp to fork over the info.  Well, the company stood its ground and said it doesn’t have access to what the police wants, which led to Dzodan’s arrest. FB isn’t pleased, particularly since WhatsApp operates as a separate entity.  Meanwhile, over in Germany, FB is under fire for being too big and abusing its power with regards to user data.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


uberMoto, Uber’s motorbike hailing service, is now a thing in Bangalore, India. The company responsible for putting ride-hailing apps on the map is stepping its international expansion game all the way up.   It’s shelling out US $250 million to get into areas like the Middle East and Africa. As of today, Uber’s now live in Pakistan.

Kenyan smartphone app, The Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek), is making eye screening easy for schools located in rural areas of the country.

Tired of seeing pics of your friends’ kids every two seconds on FB? France may be the place for you.  The government’s telling parents in the country to stop posting pics of their kids on FB in the name of protecting their privacy and security. Seems like it could be a win-win for everyone involved.

Watch out, Skype and Google Hangouts … New chat app Slack is coming for you with its soon to be launched video and voice feature. Side note: Slack is killing the fundraising game! The startup has raised over a billion dollars in just a year.  #Impressive

Not so great news for SurveyMonkey employees … The cloud-based polling service is working to better its business offerings and will drop about 100 employees along the way.

BTW, new app No More Voicemail wants people to talk less and text more #YesPlease

Virtual Skinny: Super Tuesday!

3.1.2016

Good to Know: Happy Super Tuesday! All eyes are on U.S. citizens residing in 12 states today. They are headed to the polls to vote on who could potentially be the presidential nominees for both the Republicans and the Democrats. While Democratic candidates Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders duke it out, Donald Trump is rumored to take the day on the Republican side. Btw, Trump is already winning on Twitter. 

super tuesday

THE SKINNY

When You Gotta Take the “L” …

Apple – 1; U.S. Government – 0 … In the midst of all the drams between Apple and the U.S. government over the San Bernardino attacks (remember?), the government wants Apple to hand over iPhone info related to a drug case in NY. The federal magistrate judge in the case said the government’s argument is no bueno.

Why?

If you want to get into specifics, the government is betting on a very old law (we’re talking written in 1789 old) called the All Writs Act, which the government says allows it to require things not already covered by existing law.  The judge wasn’t buying it and basically told the government to take it down several notches. In other words, the government doesn’t have that much power.

Kind of a Big Deal …

Even though the drug case has nothing to do with San Bernardino and what the judge said is limited to that particular situation, it still raises questions about what this could mean for the mega-blowout over San Bernardino. Hmmm….

Speaking of …

Since we’re on San Bernardino, here’s a quick update. Late last week, Apple met its court deadline and submitted its docs to dismiss the government’s case. This week, companies like Google, Facebook, and even Microsoft are stepping up to the plate to file their own court doc aka amicus brief aka a brief filed by someone with “skin the game” to support Apple’s position.  In the meantime, Apple’s top lawyer Bruce Sewell is at on U.S. Capitol Hill today to tell the nation’s lawmakers that they respect the victims and their families and have zero tolerance for terrorists. But, the government has put it in an impossible position when it comes to protecting iPhone users. Sewell and the company want Congress to discuss this issue before any decisions are made.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

Devil’s in the Details …

Weeks ago, the U.S. and European Union agreed on how companies should protect Europeans’ info that U.S. companies shuttle back and forth across borders. Now, they’ve released the official text of the new framework called the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. Let’s just say that this framework ups the ante in what companies need to do when it comes to their privacy policies and sharing people’s info with third parties. If you happen to be a European resident that uses the Internet, turns out you’ve got more power to bring legal action against U.S. companies if you feel it’s necessary to do so.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’

Get it directly from the source. Google’s now selling cardboard virtual reality viewers on its online sore. US $15 for a single and US $25 for a double. No need to make that McDonald’s run for their limited edition of ‘Happy Googles.’

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel told his investors that the app’s users are watching about 8 billion videos a day (same as Facebook!). But, the “Damn Daniel” vid is no longer one of them.   A group hacked into the creator’s Twitter account and hit the delete button on the viral vid. All we can say to that is … #Damn

Israeli startup Skyfi is trying to beat Facebook and Google to the punch on offering global web access. The company’s working on a “self-correcting antenna” to transform small satellites into transmitters around the globe.

When it comes to startups, we don’t hear much coming out of the Middle East. But, online e-commerce company Souq is changing that by raising major moo-lah, about $275 million and counting in funds.

Virtual Skinny: “FBI, Step Back!”

2.18.2016

Good to Know:  The Oscars are coming up. Pretty much everyone’s pulling for Leo DiCaprio to take home his first little gold man. Now, there’s a game to help him do just that. Leo’s on a rampage!

THE SKINNY


What We’re Not Gonna Do Is … 

Remember the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, CA a couple of months back? Well, the U.S. government wants Apple to “unlock” the attackers’ iPhones so they can get some info. But, Apple said “nah.”

When You’ve Gotta Pull Rank …

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI, and Apple couldn’t settle their differences in closed door discussions so a federal district court judge stepped in at the DOJ’s request.  The FBI said they couldn’t access the information they needed off one of the attackers’ phones so Judge Sheri Pym issued an order earlier this week to get Apple to help out law enforcement.  #SetItOff

When You Use Fighting Words …

Apple CEO Tim Cook was not pleased with how the government took the issue public. So, he fired off an 1,100 word “customer letter.” In a nutshell, the letter says that what the U.S. is asking Apple to do is not right. Cook wants everyone to know that encryption is key to keeping users safe and secure. He admits that not even Apple employees can access people’s phone data. That’s how serious the company is about users’ security and privacy.  And, this letter is basically his attempt to “rally the troops” and get everyone talking about this important issue. #KnowledgeIsPower

When You’re Either With Me Or You’re Not … 

Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, WhatsApp Founder Jan Koum , and your fave resident whistleblower Edward Snowden are rallying behind Apple and its stance against this whole thing.  But of course, everyone has their critics. U.S. Republican presidential hopeful doesn’t understand who [Apple] thinks they are and says the company is “disgraceful.”

When You’re Not Sure What’s Coming Next … 

Things are just getting started. Think tons of articles and opinion pieces, possible action from Congress in terms of legislation and maybe even a Supreme Court battle.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Well, That’s Interesting … 

Since we’re on the topic of the U.S. government trying to get access to people’s info … Turns out the NSA isn’t hoarding troves of your information like most people think. A new declassified NSA report says that the information it collects from online companies is usually limited to email to, from, or about its target. Hmmmm…

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Ride hailing app Uber is shelling out a billion dollars annually just to play in China.

Uganda voted to elect its next president this morning.  Citizens tried to access social media (Twitter & Facebook) but couldn’t. Turns out the country’s electoral commission requested to block the services. #UgandaDecides

In routine fashion, Yahoo let go of more of its employees this past Wednesday. And, it also shut down several of its digital magazines.

Sports network ESPN may be coming to a streaming service near you.

Google Express now delivers fresh food but only if you happen to live in select areas like Los Angeles or San Francisco. In more Google news, the time may soon come to ditch your Rosetta Stone, the number of language on Google Translate just went over the 100 mark.

Back to deliveries for a hot sec … Amazon is growing its on-demand delivery service by quietly hiring drivers to join the team.

Shop Snapchat soon, according to the company’s board member Joanna Coles.

Say hello to Twitter’s new Gif button (and we’ve learned that’s Gif with a “hard G’) … Also, Twitter just lost another user. Who? God, apparently.